"There's a house across the river," Alas I Cannot Swim by Laura Marling.
So it’s the end of the year and in Malaysia, that means kenduri season.
And while I’ve been eating away, I’ve also been observing and am called to make some comments regarding what I’ve been consistently seeing throughout the kenduri-season. So check it. 1. Salam
It’s common practice in Malaysia (alongside most parts of the world) for people to shake hands upon meeting each other, either for the first time or for any other time for that matter. The unique thing about Malaysians, especially among the Muslim community, is that the younger participant of the hand-shake would usually be obliged to kiss the hand of the older one (if not kiss, then bow their heads). It is a sign of respect towards the elderly, and something I find charming.
Of late, I’ve been seeing more and more young people refusing to even bow their heads when shaking hands with people who are clearly older than them. To me this is a big loss to the Malay-Muslim culture, and if left untreated will take away one of the flavours of the Malaysian experience.
Some people might go on and say “but what’s the big deal?” and my answer would be the same question.
What’s the big deal? What’s so hard about bowing your head towards your elders, showing them respect for their years? What do you lose when you bow? Dignity? Value? In my humble opinion, you actually increase in respectability when you show respect towards others, especially towards your elders.
There’s a Malay saying that goes “ular menyusur akar tidak akan hilang bisanya,” which roughly translates to “a snake that slides below a root does not lose its venom”. The point here is that even if you are of very high value, it does not hurt you in any way if you respect others, even those regarded “below” you (if you believe in such rankings).
Main point, young people, guys and girls, show respect to earn respect. Tunduk pi la bila salam orang tua. Bukan susah sangat pun. 2. Waste management
If there’s one thing that ticks me off, it’s littering. Generally, people seem to think that there’s nothing wrong to throw their paper napkins, candy-wrappers or cigarette butt into a nearby gutter or on the floor, even when rubbish bins/plastics have been established and are plentiful.
Admittedly, the problem is not only limited to kenduris, but you can see the extent to which cleanliness is of insignificance during these gatherings.
The problem lies in the thinking of the people that assume that their “little bit of rubbish” is not a significant enough amount to hurt anyone.
“Hang toksah dok buat teghok ngat aih. Plastit ceklet hack ja pon.”
That’s during the early stages. When it finally gets bad enough to actually show, there’s another way of thinking, which goes “it’s already dirty, like this little thing is going to make it any worse. Alang-alang dah penuh sampah tu, kita guna ajalah macam tempat buang sampah.”
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Throw your junk where they’re supposed to be thrown. There’s bound to be designated areas. If by the impossible chance there aren’t any or if all of them are full, point this out to the host of the kenduri. It is their responsibility to ensure there are places for guests to throw their rubbish. And I’m sure they’d appreciate the heads up. 3. Monetary gifts
It is normal for people to bring gifts for the newly-weds. It is almost expected of the guests that are close to the family of the newly-weds. However, sometimes people forget to get gifts. And in these cases, it is common for people to palm some money to the host (usually one of the parents of one of the newly-weds) when shaking their hand.
And I’ve seen hosts rejecting these monetary gifts. They refuse to accept the cash, some even return the money by going to the extent of shoving the cash back into the giver’s pocket.
I disagree with this act of returning money.
You might want to seem more “sincere” in throwing the kenduri by not accepting the money. But let’s be honest. If I were the giver of the money, and the money was meant to make up for my bad memory, then I would be insulted if you gave the money back to me, just as I would be insulted if I brought a gift-wrapped microwave oven (or anything, really) as a gift and you refused to accept it on the grounds of wanting to seem “sincere”.
So hosts, receive the gift, in any shape it may come. If you want to go through the routine of rejecting a gift to seem polite, then do it only once. If the giver insists on giving the gift, then accept it with a big smile and thank you. And hug. If you want to.
So that concludes my kenduri-thoughts for now. May all the newly-weds be blessed and get lots of children. Muahaha, typical wish is typical.